College Basketball: 10 Must-Watch Games This Week

New Year's is a great time to jump into college hoops. Here are 10 games you won't want to miss.

After an exciting start to the college basketball season full of top-flight, non-conference matchups, it is time for teams to get tested with the start of conference play.

While many eyes will be on college football this weekend, there is plenty of basketball on TV that should not be overshadowed by the much hyped bowl season.

Some teams went out of their way to schedule tough competition in the non-conference period and took early blemishes to their win-loss record while others took an easier path to pump up their early season résumé.

With conference play upon us, there is nowhere to hide for the major conference programs, especially with the loaded schedules that some teams face once they start playing league games.

If you love college basketball or just need something to watch, these games will help give you an impression of teams you will see in your brackets come March. With all that said, here are 10 games to watch this week.


Game of the Day

(12) Virginia at (6) Louisville, 7 PM ET, ESPN2

Wednesday night's matchup of two highly-ranked teams to open up ACC play boasts the second- and third-ranked teams in defensive efficiency in the country, according to our power rankings, in Virginia and Louisville, respectively.

Each team has dropped only one game this season. Virginia lost to 11th-ranked West Virginia, and Louisville lost to 4th-ranked Baylor, both by single-digit margins. Virginia only allows 47.1 points per game to opponents, best in the country. However, they refrain from being one-dimensional, as their offense also ranks 18th nationally.

While Virginia looks like the more balanced team, Louisville has looked very impressive against a tougher schedule. The Cardinals have a neutral-site win over Wichita State, while having knocked off 15th-ranked Purdue and most recently 8th-ranked Kentucky at home.

Other Games to Watch

Monmouth at (9) North Carolina, 7 PM ET, ESPNU

This will be a measuring stick game for Monmouth and their last opportunity to improve their non-conference résumé, which includes a win at Memphis. North Carolina has looked impressive this season, and this will be a nice test as they close out their non-conference schedule.

(2) UCLA at (21) Oregon, 9 PM ET, ESPN2

UCLA, our number-one ranked offensive team in the country, hopes to keep their hot shooting and unbeaten record alive in an early-season road test in Eugene against the Ducks. Oregon, who has looked good -- but not great -- early on, will look to put their names back on the map by taking down the Bruins.


Game of the Day

(22) USC at (21) Oregon, 10 PM ET, FS1

Oregon may get their second shot of the weekend to take down an unbeaten team when USC makes the trip to Eugene. The Trojans first have to avoid a letdown at Oregon State but can boost their résumé and keep their unbeaten season alive with a big road win in Oregon.

USC's best win thus far is against unranked Texas A&M, and a win over Oregon will help give their record some validity.

Other Games to Watch

(11) West Virginia at Oklahoma State, 4 PM ET, ESPN2

Our top-ranked team according to nERD, West Virginia, heads to Stillwater for only their second true road game of the season. The Cowboys have gotten off to a 10-2 start but will get a true test against the Mountaineers' stifling defense.

In their only matchup against a ranked opponent this season, Oklahoma State got throttled by North Carolina in Hawaii.


Game of the Day

(1) Villanova at (10) Creighton, 1 PM ET, FS1

Depending on results from Wednesday's games, this could be a clash of unbeatens. Villanova is in the midst of a four-week run as the top-ranked team in the country and still has the big target on their back, being defending national champions.

The Wildcats have beaten teams by nearly 20 points per contest, thanks mostly to a stellar offense, which is ranked third according to our numbers, but it will be their defense that will be put to the test if they want to grab a win in Omaha.

We have Creighton ranked 11th offensively, in large part because of their nation-leading 45 percent shooting from beyond the arc. The Bluejays, who have been hanging around the top 10 in the AP rankings all season, get a great opportunity to show they belong in the national conversation.

Other Games to Watch

(6) Louisville vs (16) Indiana, 12:30 PM ET, CBS

Indiana gets one more shot to pick up a big non-conference win in this neutral-site matchup with Louisville in Indianapolis. The Hoosiers have already knocked off Kansas and North Carolina but dropped their latest top-25 matchup to Butler in this building.

This may be a tough turnaround for Louisville after what should be a grind-it-out game against Virginia, especially against an Indiana team that can light up the scoreboard.

(20) Florida State at (12) Virginia, 2 PM ET, ESPNU

Virginia will face a similar test to that of Louisville on Saturday when they face off with a Seminoles team that ranks top 20 in the country in offense. Florida State has gotten off to a hot start this season, with their only loss coming in November to Temple.

They have since reeled off eight wins, including a victory over 25th-ranked Florida at home, but a visit to Charlottesville may prove to be too much for the 'Noles.

(5) Duke at Virginia Tech, 12 PM ET, ESPN2

Duke will be without Grayson Allen in this game as he is serving the first game of his indefinite suspension, but that may not matter considering the glut of talent that Coach K boasts in Durham. The Blue Devils are scarier than their number-five AP ranking and number-eight nERD ranking due to the young talent that we have yet to see fully gel together.

Their ACC opener is in Blacksburg, where Virginia Tech has turned some heads early on this season. This will be a great measuring-stick game for the Hokies as they look to boost their résumé and climb the ladder in a loaded ACC.


Game of the Day

(14) Wisconsin at (16) Indiana, 7 PM ET, ESPN

While it is still early in the season, this could be a preview of the Big Ten title game in March. Wisconsin will be looking to notch a big win early in conference play as their two losses have come against their two best opponents, Creighton and North Carolina. The Badgers will be well rested, having a week off after Tuesday's victory over Rutgers.

On the other hand, Indiana will have played twice in a week, including their battle against Louisville Saturday. While the Hoosiers have home court, it will be interesting to see if Wisconsin can steal one in Bloomington.